A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”
The comments caused the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday to demand an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell. But a spokesman for Brown said her comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes. […] “Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.
Matthew Yglesias responds:
As it happens, it seems to me that people of Chinese ancestry tend to have very “easy” names as things stand—lots of monosyllables and so forth. The big culprits in terms of “difficult” names, I would say, are Eastern Europeans, South Asians, upper-class WASPs, and of course those of us with Galician names like “Yglesias” that combined foreign origin with unorthodox spelling.
Which do you find easier “to deal with,” Li or Wu, or Yglesias?
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.